CARS Evaluation Checklist

CARS is an acronym for Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support, all of which are criteria you should apply in evaluating web documents to determine their suitability for your research project. Below are questions you can ask about each criterion, as well as things to look for in the document to help you determine whether it meets that criterion.

Questions to AskThings to Look For
Credibility
  • Who wrote the web page and can you contact him or her?
  • What is the purpose of the document and why was it produced?
  • Is this person qualified to write this document?
  • What is the evidence of quality control?
  • Make sure author provides e-mail or a contact address/phone number.
  • What are the author's credentials?
  • What institution is the author affiliated with? Look at the first part of the URL to find out. (e.g. http://www.somesite.org/ or http://www.somedomain.com/)
  • Know the distinction between author and webmaster.
Accuracy
  • When was the information produced and last updated?
  • Are the links working?
  • How comprehensive is the document?
  • Is the information popular or scholarly in nature?
  • Check for the date the page was last updated.
  • Check for broken links.
  • Who is the target audience - novices or experts on the subject?
  • Does the depth of information match the potential audience?
  • Are references or a bibliography provided?
  • Is the site primarily images without text?
Reasonableness
  • What goals/objectives does this page meet?
  • How detailed is the information?
  • What opinions (if any) are expressed by the author?
  • Is the page associated with some form of advertising?
  • Is the web page a mask for advertising? If so, the information might be biased.
  • Does the page state the level of information that is being provided and the target audience?
  • View any web page as you would an infommercial on television: why and for whom was it written?
  • Do messages appear across the screen prompting use of other services?
Support
  • Is the information presented cited correctly?
  • Are supporting links on the topic provided?
  • Is additional software required to view the site or access its information?
  • Are viewing options recommended or available?
  • Is the information free?
  • Are references and a bibliography provided?
  • Are the links evaluated and do they complement the document's theme?
  • Is supporting software provided?
  • Is there an option for text only, or frames, or a suggested browser for better viewing?
  • Are there provisions for accessing the information such as registration or fees for service?

For a more comprehensive list of evaluation criteria, see Critical Evaluation of Information Sources.

Adapted from: CARS Evaluation Checklist. (2004, June 11). Queen’s University Library. Retrieved October 4, 2007 from http://library.queensu.ca/inforef/guides/evalchart.htm



Last updated March 31, 2009 cb

 

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